Loose Cannon: Now that the dust has settled...
Thursday, April 15, 20100 Comments
The incoming CSA Board, which was divided on whether to endorse the campaign to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, has
Politicians make a good show of disliking their opponents.
In debate, it’s common to hear a fiery orator talk about how the gentleman (or gentlewoman) on the other team is so far out to left (or right) field, they’re a hair’s breadth away from encroaching on communist (or fascist) territory.
Politicians may say nasty things about their opponents, but they don’t necessarily take them to heart. They simply can’t, because the inner workings of government operate much differently than the theatrics on the floor of whatever legislature you happen to follow.
In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans form bipartisan caucuses to advance important legislation for women, blacks, Hispanics and the LGBT community. In Canada, MPs and Senators from all parties sit on committees in order to shape legislation and compose reports.
At the end of the day, a certain amount of co-operation is necessary for democracy to thrive. You may disagree with a colleague on a single issue, but you need to be able to work amicably with that colleague on other issues. Otherwise, nothing would get done.
The incoming CSA Board, which was divided on whether to endorse the campaign to leave the Canadian Federation of Students, has a tough road ahead for the coming year.
Some questioned whether it was the CSA’s place to take a stance. Some who voted in favour of supporting the No campaign were volunteers with that campaign, and vice versa for the Yes side.
In the end, the CSA endorsed the No vote, which went on to resoundingly win the referendum. No doubt the fallout from that decision will continue to resonate for some time.
The referendum is over, but I worry that the rivalry will continue.
It’s a particular challenge to the incoming Executive, who won relatively low-key elections only to find themselves competing against one another in a high-stakes campaign - and their jobs haven’t even started yet.
Their involvement shows that our elected representatives are passionate about representing students’ interests, even if they disagree on some of the specifics.
What’s important now is that the new Board doesn’t let a difference of opinion affect its larger mission of advocating for students at the University of Guelph
Those who supported the No side should avoid needless gloating and focus on re-orienting themselves to tackle pressing issues, including a desperate need for more student space and the fight against student apathy.
On the other hand, those who supported the Yes side need to avoid thinking of the defeat as a slight, and instead work to find common ground with their new colleagues.
If nothing else, I hope this experience has shown that real debate between elected officials, rather than the wishy-washy let’s-keep-students-informed approach, is the key to getting students involved in campus politics.
Nearly 40 per cent of undergraduates cast ballots in the CFS referendum – 45 per cent, if you ignore co-op students, who were ineligible to vote because they didn’t pay CFS fees this semester.
Politics thrive on a certain amount of conflict. When elected representatives debate ideas with real-world consequences, voters become interested in the outcome.
But when the dust has settled from those debates, it’s time to get back to work.